Garage door opener rail.. Need Help Quick !!

ksplspJanuary 17, 2010

I have owned my Craftsman 1/2 hp belt driven garage door opener for about 3 1/2 years with no problems at all. Recently I noticed when I opened the garage door the rail squats like it's under tremendous stress almost to the point where it looks like it's going to snap! up until now it's worked great without any adjustments. I checked everything,anything loose, cracked or broken I couldn't find anything.. I even greased area's where the owners manual recommended, hoping something was frozen. The track wheels on the garage door itself weren't froze up either, but still gave them a couple of lube blasts'.I could really use some help on this folks before I have to shell out money to some handyman or to a Sears service tech.

I wish I had bought the extended warranty but didn't.



P.S I did check th forums for similar problems but didn't find any so Ii wouldn't waste anyones time.

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You should have an "emergency disconnect device" on that opener that will allow you to use the door manually in case of a power failure. Use it once you have the door in the full open position. Have someone hold the door in the open position while you do the disconnect.

With the opener physically disconnected from the door, both of you CAREFULLY bring the door around the curve. If it begins to get heavier and heavier, then you undoubtably have a broken counter-balance spring that must be replaced. If your door as twin springs, then the smart thing to do is to replace them both right now. Springs are rated in "cycles of operation". A cycle consists of opening the door fully and closing it fully.

Since both springs go through the exact same number of cycles, the second spring is close to the end of its lifespan. This is not a job for the inexperienced DIY because these springs pack a lot of power when they are fully wound. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and all the costs that go with it by calling a professional door company to replace the spring/s.

It's a good idea to remove your cars from the garage when doing this test so you can leave the door alone until the Pro arrives.

Just so you know, a properly balanced door should only need a maximum of five pounds pressure to lift it off the floor and move it to the fully opened position. You should be able to stop the door at any point and it should stay exactly where you stopped it. At the top, the door should clear the opening fully and stay put.

Electric operators are not cranes. They are there to take the place of the average human exerting reasonable force to open the door. Anything more than that is putting extra wear and tear on the operator and shortening its lifespan.

Post back here and let me know what you find.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Usually the springs last longer than 4 years, but depends on the quality and tuning I thinking. my door an old heavy model I have three springs. One of them broke one time sounded like a high powered rifle going off. You can inspect the springs like kompressor indicated. if one is broke it will have no tension on it. I also agree let the professions replace the spring. I watched them when I had mine replaced, they had special tools to put the tension back on the spring and course they know how much on each one also. not that diffuclt if you know what your doing, but as Kompressor said and I agree potentially VERY DANGEROUS!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 7:07PM
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When i built the addition on my home, i had the contractor keep one end open for a garage door, and a man door on the side.
I installed the door and raising mechanism, not an electric opener, just hand lift.
Over the years, it got harder for me to open it, and i thought about an electric opener. And, as it got harder to lift it up, i oiled the rollers and hinges! And that was my down-fall! It got to where i couldn't lift it without help! The fact i was 84 YOA didn't even occur to me! And, the problem occured in warm weather!
Then i read where the hinges and rollers mustn't be oiled, or lubricated.
So, out came the squirt oil can, loded with mineral spirits, each roller got several squirts of it, and the door has suddenly gotten back to normal. I can now lift it up to full open again!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 10:37PM
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I have no idea where you read that hinges and rollers on o/h doors should NOT be lubricated. That is false information. I owned a company that specialized in the maintenance of doors, including every type of overhead door known to man. Be it one piece swing up, sectional steel, aluminum, fiberglass or wood, we did them all. What bearing do you know of that is happy when running dry? All you did was put a lot of friction back into play so that your door would stay at the top of the opening.

Whether it's the springs on your car, truck or overhead door, they all lose tension over time. If you have torsion springs or stretch springs, they require adjustment to keep the door in proper balance. This is a task for the PRO's. I've been to jobsites where there was still blood on the wall, door or floor because someone THOUGHT they knew how to do it.

I've had homeowners appear in the garage with a sheepish look on their faces to explain the bandages they were wearing.

Do yourself a favour. Call a Pro and get your door service properly.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:27AM
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My mistake in oiling the rollers was that i had used 30W motor oil. And when the weather got colder, it got thicker, and impeded the free movement of the rollers. I don't think there is a heat problem with the rollers. Heat destroys rolling bearings, if neglected too long. And dirt does, too. Garage door rollers don't heat up enough to damage them, i think. If the door was constantly going up and down without stopping-then heat would be a problem, i'd think. Dirt from grinding of paint or metals will damage the rollers, and fill them up, if the rollers stay wet, or full of grease.
I was told by a garage door mechanic that the springs should pull the door up and back to a more or less flat position, with the bottom section up far enough to clear anything you want to drive in. I believe, if you get the door up far enough to relax the tension on the springs, the door should stay up, not roll back down. It should only roll back down if you pull on the rope, which is how mine works.
I do have a problem. The door is close to the ceiling, and i can't install an opener on it. But, i don't want one any way.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 1:24PM
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There are several different type of rollers that have been used on sectional ohverhead doors. Some are steel shafts with a nylon roller. These have no bearings in them. They rely on the nylon to act as a bearing. These are very cheap rollers with a short life.

The low end steel rollers are designed for lightweight residential-duty doors. They have seven ball bearings in them but the balls don't ride on hardened surfaces. They last about six years and then start falling apart. The commercial grade of 2" roller have more balls that are in hardened races. These last four or five times longer than the seven ball type. Anything will ball bearings needs lubrication. We used 10W30 or even ATF. Any light viscosity oil is fine.

Rollers that do not roll with develop flat spots on them and then never roll no matter what you do to them. If your door won't stay in the full open position, then it needs a spring adjustment carried out by a Pro who knows how to adjust springs safely and to make adjustments to the cable lengths so as to take advantage of the Hi-lift portion on the cable drums.

Trust me. There's a lot more to a properly adjusted door than what most people realize or even know. I have come across all kinds of botched jobs by guys who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a door.

I used to put electric operators on doors like you have that lack headroom above the door. There are ways to make it happen if you are on top of your game.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 4:01PM
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To Kompressor:
The door i installed was formerly on some type of repair shop, so i know it isn't one of those flimsy doors with thin filler panels. It evidently came out of some garage where they had a burglar alarm set-up, as it had the wires, and tapes, on it, and covered by masonite panels on the inside. The main filler panels are 1/4 inch plywood, so it ain't flimsy. I removed the inner cover panels, and lost a lot of unusable weight.
I am now lubing the door with a light oil. The springs seem ok, although i guess i should replace them, as they aren't new. And, as my income is limited, i can't hire an expert to do things on it, so i must attend to them my self.
As for an electric opener--yes, there probably are ways to overcome the tight-against the ceiling problem, such as installing the opener further back from the end of up travel spot.
I'll get it fixed, just waiting for warm weather to get on it. Thanks for the info! Rusty J.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 11:02AM
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Good Advice ! I could not agree more , if your not well informed (Novice) on the mechanical workings of these doors , your looking at some huge frustration and potential injury . There is Substantial Energy Stored within these Units.

Rusty : I assumed you meant improper form of lubrication , either chemical suitable for the bearing (roller) or viscosity , since as Komp. has stated all bearings normally require some form of Lubricity against Friction . I realized this is not lost on a Old Dog like You , Just misinterpreted . :)

P.S. I'am going to install this same Technology on my Utility Shed (24'x20') next yr. Getting a little to Old for the Arm-strong Theory lol . Going to have my Sons Install , I'll supply the Adult Beverage and take notes for future reference , since they are both familiar with these installations and proper adjustments lol .

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 12:09PM
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When i bought the door, used, it had the roll type springs across the header over the door opening. I was leery of them, so i installed the other type that hang alongside the track.
I went down to the garage yesterday, to bring in a lawn mower, and the door went up very nicely. One hand operation. So, i guess the mineral spirits did the lubing of it satisfactorily. It hasn't been opened for a couple months.
And, the rollers aren't the el-cheapo ones. I checked on that.
One place where i worked, a disgruntled customer backed his car thru the overhead door! Needless to say--he didn't get his car out without paying, which was his sole idea.
And being that the door company couldn't do the replacement for a week, and there was no other way to move cars in or out, i told him to buy a new door and i'd install it. This after watching several new doors being installed. So, i went at it, and in 4-5 hours it was in and done, and it worked well, even better than the old one!
Thats why i did my own door. I've always been a quick mechanical learner. But, i also always kept the safety practices in force! But, thanks for your concerns, and advice! We all need them occasionally!
Rusty Jones, The Mower Man

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 1:52PM
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Torsion springs are safer than stretch springs are. Torsion springs have a shaft through the middle of them to contain them when they break. If you don't have a safety cable running though the middle of your stretch springs, they're an accident waiting to happen.

That said, stretch springs are easier to adjust. Raise the door to the full open position and lock the door in place by clamping the track with a pair of vice-grip pliers just below the bottom roller on the door.

All you need to do next is to undo the end of the cable that is anchored to the tracks and shorten it a couple inches. Do this to both sides EQUALLY. Remove the vice grips and test the door for balance. If happy... you're done. If not, then adjust again until bliss arrives.

In case you didn't know it, we used to weigh our wood sectional doors. Everything that moved with the door face when it was raised and lowered was put on the scale to come up with an accurate weight. Once that weight was determined, we calculated the length, inside diameter and guage of wire needed for the counter-balancing spring/s.

Alarm companies and other "security" type firms often came in and added wiring with panelling as you describe and/or security bars to the doors. These things throw a door totally out of balance. The only way to compensate is to bring the scale to the jobsite and find out what the door now weighs. Then you calculate for new spring/s and install them

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 3:52PM
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Note: both of my springs have safety cables running thru them. The main problem i have had is from the pulley wheels where the lifting cable makes the curve at top of door, occasionally wear out, so i have to replace them. I also had to install the low overhead things to make the door clear the ceiling.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:22AM
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I think you are referring to "quick closing fixtures" that consist of a special top fixture that has two rollers in it instead of one.

As for your side pulley issue, there are larger diameter ones meant for low headroom hardware on commercial/industrial doors. You might want to talk to a local door company about those and then see if you are able to fit them in.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 11:10AM
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To Kompressor:
Those items i described are known in local circles as "Low-overhead attachments". They pull the top panel back from the opening as soon as the door is raised an inch or so, and it keeps the door from catching or hitting on the ceiling of the garage. Here in our area, we have to install heavy "Dry-wall" and coat it with the paint that is made for it, for fire protection. That is why i had to install the low overhead devices. Before i installed the dry-wall, the door cleared the ceiling. Being that i could not raise the ceiling, i had to opt for those devices. Make sense? I thought so.
And, because i needed the door opening to be higher than most, i had to install a lower door panel board to make it all work. Yeah, i know--you all must think i'm goofy, but think of the money old Red Green has made by the same stuff!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:08AM
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I don't think you are goofy at all. I just helped my son-in-law build a bank-barn style outbuilding. The lower area that is set into the hill is for his CUT and other property maintenance equipment. The architect had the o/h door height set at 8 ft 6". I convinced my SIL to allow the foundation contractor to pour the walls 6" higher so that he could go to 9 ft high doors. Doing so meant that if he bought a new tractor with a cab, he'd have no problems getting it into that building.

You gotta do what ya gotta do.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:34AM
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